Homemade Spicy Giardiniera

Homemade spicy giardiniera is a combination of vegetables, olives, and hoy peppers lightly pickled and then stored in a mix of pickling liquid and olive oil. It is perfect on top of pizza, sausage, hot dogs, beef sandwiches, or even mixed into salads and pasta.

Homemade Giardiniera | Sarcastic Cooking

Giardiniera is a relish like topping that is near and dear to us Chicago-adjacent folk.

Some like it spicy. Some don’t like olives in the mix.

It is basically as subjective as a Chicagoan’s preference in pizza; deep dish or otherwise.

There is one thing you need to understand about this recipe.

I am not Italian so don’t compare this to some authentic, homemade spicy giardiniera your uncle Sal makes in his basement next to his jugs of home-brewed wine.

Giardiniera Ingredients | sarcastic Cooking

This is my take on my favorite pizza and Italian sausage/ bratwurst topping.

Plus, my Dad said it tasted great, ok!?!?!

I slaved over my stove, in a cloud of vinegar scented fumes two different times to bring you this recipe.

The first rendition used broccoli instead of cauliflower. It worked, but it wasn’t my favorite.

It was a tad stinky too.

Chop the Veggies for Giardiniera | Sarcastic Cooking

Cauliflower was the missing link. It has a crunch that just holds up better than broccoli.

I used a mix of red bell pepper, cauliflower, celery, carrots, banana peppers, jalapeño peppers, black olives, and green olives.

Boil a pickling liquid made from mustard seeds, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, sugar, salt, white vinegar, and water. Let that cool while you do all the chopping.

Chill the veggies | Sarcastic Cooking

Then you have to parboil the veggies for just about three minutes. It takes a little of the edge off and helps them absorb the flavor more.

It is a process people. Bear with me.

Transfer the veggies into an ice bath and then plop them into the pickling liquid to chill in the fridge, covered overnight.

Pickle Overnight | Sarcastic Cooking

The next day, pack the veggies and olives into jars with a little of the pickling liquid, fresh garlic, oregano, more red pepper flakes, and then top with extra-virgin olive oil.

Beware, you will snack on all the pickled veggie while packing them into jars.

I call this recipe homemade spicy giardiniera, but feel free to scale back the crushed red pepper flakes in the jarring/canning process.

There is enough residual heat from the pickling liquid.

Homemade Spicy Giardiniera | Sarcastic Cooking


There you have it folks! Like I said, it is a process, but your friends, family, and neighbors will thank you for the gift of a spicy jar that keeps on giving.

Homemade Spicy Giardiniera

Homemade Spicy Giardiniera

Yield: 3-4, 16oz Jars
Prep Time: 12 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours 25 minutes

Lightly pickled, spicy vegetables, peppers, and olives perfect as a topping for pizza, burgers, brats, hot dogs, or just about anything!


  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 3/4 head of cauliflower, broken into small pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced or diced
  • 3/4 cup sliced black olives and green olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped pickled banana peppers
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • reserved pickling liquid
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Add all the pickling liquid to a pot and bring to a boil. Whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Chop and prepare all the vegetables.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the carrots, cauliflower, red pepper, jalapeño, and celery into the boiling water. Blanch the vegetables for about 3 minutes.
  4. Prepare a large bowl filled with ice and cold water. Transfer the boiled vegetables to the ice bath using a slotted spoon or fine mesh strainer.
  5. Pour the cooled pickling liquid into a heatproof bowl with a lid. Add the cooled vegetables along with the banana peppers to the pickling liquid. Cover with lid and chill in the fridge overnight.
  6. The next day set out 3-4, 16oz mason jars and lids. Add a little of the chopped garlic, dried oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes to the bottom each jar.
  7. Transfer the pickled veggies into the jars using a slotted spoon. Add equal amounts of olives to each jar.
  8. Add about 1/4-1/3 cup pickling liquid to each jar. Top with olive oil. Seal the lid. Shake to combine. Store in the fridge for up to a month.
  9. Allow the jars to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Homemade Giardiniera | Sarcastic Cooking

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